Friday, July 10, 2009

'Legislative report says Perry can issue posthumous pardons'

The title of this post is also the headline of a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story in which we learn that the Texas Legislative Council thinks Governor Perry has authority to issue a posthumous pardon to Timothy Cole, who died in prison before DNA testing could finally exonerate him last year, without passing a constitutional amendment. Reported the Startlegram:

A new state legislative review says Gov. Rick Perry has the power to issue posthumous pardons — and should issue one in the case of Fort Worth’s Tim Cole.

This year, a state judge exonerated Cole, who died in prison in 1999, of raping a Texas Tech student. DNA tests cleared him of the crime, and his family wants the governor to formally pardon him.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said Wednesday that a new report from the Texas Legislative Council shows that the governor has power to issue that posthumous pardon.

Perry, who has supported the family’s effort to get a pardon, has maintained that an old state attorney general’s ruling dictates that he must first have authority from Texans — through a constitutional amendment — to sign off on such a document.

My take on this is simple. Lege Council has given Governor Perry plenty of cover to say it's legal to issue Tim Cole a posthumous pardon and go ahead and do so.

The very worst that could happen is that, if somebody sued (and in this case, no one with standing has threatened to sue or has any reason to do so) sometime down the line, perhaps years from now when he's not even in office, the courts could later say "no." If all that happens and some future court disagrees with the Lege Council's interpretation, so be it. By that time the full Legislature will meet again and they can pass a constitutional amendment all nice and formal like.

It's the right thing to do, it will give the family solace, and it will show that Texas cares about the reputation of the innocent people it has exonerated.

Governor Perry, Pardon Timothy Cole!


NoMoreNoloContendere said...

GFB, Please add No More Nolo Contendre of (Project - 100% Not Guilty) under Grits for Breakfast in an internet petition.

He (Gov.) needs to do the right thing in this matter. If he really wants to hear from us Texans then we should stand up & be counted.

Even if a Pardon isn't worth the paper it's written on in re: to reversing the lifelong effects a wrongfull conviction has, it's a start. I would like to see his family rec. the $80K for each yr. he spent in hell. The bummer part is my taxes will go toward that payment when it should be comming out of the retirement package of the ones directly responsible (Assist D.A. & cops)

Don Dickson said...

I concur, Tim Cole should be pardoned without delay.

Lynn said...

I don't get this either. What possible motivation could the Gov have for not pardoning him? Like you said, Grits, who would possibly be against this, even if his authority in the matter was dubious? It's not even a partisan issue; it would seem that he only stands to gain from this. Now he has additional cover from the lege council, so...what gives? Is he waiting to put on a big public production once the primary heats up or what?

Chris H said...

If you follow SJR 11 through the legislative process, it would appear that Tim Cole was tacked on as a poster boy for an otherwise moronic law. SJR 11 wanted to give the power to pardon deferred adjudication agreements. This is stupid. Once the deferred adjudication agreement has been upheld by the defendant, he asks the judge to dismiss the case. There's no need for a pardon. The penalty has been completed. If there is a problem with the agreement being used against the defendant to obtain gainful employment, etc, that's a problem that can be resolved with how TDCJ handles public records. The only prejudice that remains is the ability to use the agreement in cases for repeat offenses. Being that it is an effect of statute, statute can allow for procedure to correct it.

Anonymous said...

I don't want a dead governor pardoning anyone.

Hook Em Horns said...


Hook Em Horns said...

I'm sorry Grits. I support, wholeheartedly, the pardoning of Tim Cole but taking a bandaged legislative report that "thinks"
it's OK for Perry to do this is not the answer. This pardon needs to be real and actual and if it takes a Constitutional amendment, so be it. Tim Cole deserves the real deal not some opinion that could be overturned.

sunray's wench said...

If Perry had any conscience of soul, he would be pushing the whole legal thing through by himself, demanding action to get everything legally in place for him to be able to sign whatever document necessary. He would not be sitting around waiting for everyone else to do the work for him.

Perry is no leader, not in any sense a "can do" man; he is a (very expensive) sheep.

Anonymous said...

Goes to show you how well he knows what the office offers as far as his power within the state...

Anonymous said...

3:33 said: SJR 11 wanted to give the power to pardon deferred adjudication agreements. This is stupid. Once the deferred adjudication agreement has been upheld by the defendant, he asks the judge to dismiss the case. There's no need for a pardon. The penalty has been completed.

SJR 11 was the enabling legislation for SB 223. If you read Senator Wests' original analysis of SB 223, you will understand the rationale to introducing this bill. SB 2075 was a more direct approach to this problem, and would have helped many more people truly put their past behind them. BTW- once a person successfully completes their deferred adjudication community supervision and the term expires, the judge must dismiss the charge. That is part of the contractual agreement. But- although there is no final conviction, people do suffer permanent collateral consequences, i.e. denial of occupational licenses, employment, housing, the ability to volunteer at their child's school,etc. This means, the penalty lasts FOREVER-as long as the current bar to expunge the arrest record/files remains,as in the Texas CCP 55.01.This must change-and SB 223 was an attempt to right this wrong. The problem is, a non conviction cannot and does not need a pardon!! Sorry to get off topic on this one. But, per the original post- Mr. Cole must be pardoned, and anything less is inhumane. His family has already suffered enough, and his name must be cleared.

NoMoreNoloContendere said...

WTF is going on? 10 comments in 4 days & ALL seem to agree with GFB. I'm very proud of you & you know who you are. There is still time for jerks & spell checkers to weigh in & you will.

The internet petition in favor of Timothy Cole receiving a posthumous pardon is well on it's way to being delivered to Gov. Perry. I'll personally volunteer (unless you all want to meet me in Austin) to deliver the (Grits for Breakfast list) along with the (PROJECT - Not Guilty list) & any other list accumulated. Forward your list(s) or mail them directly to Austin. *I don't think we can honestly include the Anonymous. But they should be included even if we have to deliver two packages.

Q. For ten points, what is the name of the ADA that prosecuted the case?

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